Tomato/ Tohmahto or Something More? A Guide to CSR terminology
At least weekly I'm asked to define, clarify, or defend my use of the term Corporate Social Responsibility. This is primarily because there's no well-defined term in the industry, and occasionally because someone has taken exception (usually either to the word responsibility or philanthropy.)
I find that the term a person prefers is often determined either by familiarity, or by the motivators that drive them to want to discuss Corporate Social Responsibility. To be clear: regardless of what term you use, I'm simply happy to discuss the topic. However, because the industry is evolving rapidly, differences in terminology are emerging. So for those trying to determine which term best applies to your organization, I humbly submit my diagram outlining what I see as key frameworks and associated motivators:
Also, if you'd like more insight into the subtle differences, some of the most frequently heard terms and additional definitions are outlined below. The irony is that there continues to be limited clarity in the use of this terminology, even within the articles chosen themselves.
Social Value Index: focuses most specifically on the impact of consumer influence, peer comparison and revenue increased based on socially responsible practices. Heavy focus on marketing impact.
Corporate Philanthropy: often focused on the concept of philanthropy for philanthropy's sake. Often guided by a desire to extend organizational culture and make an impact on the community with no expectation of yielding benefit.
Corporate Citizenship: heavy emphasis on ethics and doing the right thing. Often discussed as part of the conversation related to governance and ethical employee decision-making.
Socially Responsible HR: an emerging field, but one that SHRM is beginning to discuss. I enjoy this framework because it often pulls on the full gambit of CSR tools.
Conscious Capitalism/ Corporate Social Responsibility: My favorite of the topics, I'm convinced that Conscious Capitalism is truly CSR at it's best.
In other words, it's less about the term you use, than it is the reasons for using the term and what you're doing with those. The more global your Corporate Social Responsibility platform, the broader the impact will be. My hope is beyond verbiage, this tool is useful to self assess your organization's motivators, and if opportunities for cross collaboration continue to exist.
What additional terminology have you heard? Do you agree with the ways I've outlined the various frameworks? Why or why not?